For today’s startup online video platforms, everything just seems to make sense. Online video is booming in popularity, and it appears that everyone who’s anyone wants to get a little piece of the action. Most startups have a three step mentality: 1) gather a finely-tuned team of IT experts and/or software engineers to design a platform different from all the others, 2) market it with a unique brand name, and 3) seek out investors willing to help fund the product. In short, create a marketable online video service that can make or break return on investment. Sounds easy right? Well, that was before video got a nice upgrade with interactivity.

Before, video resellers relied on a basic viewer-presenter model for sellable content. The client identified what they wanted the video to reflect, the creation company produced the video(s), and the end product is resold for profit. Animoto, a video storytelling platform, launched its Reseller account type in 2011, providing users a license to create unlimited videos for B2B sales. This feature was perfect for the time: sell your full-length, high definition videos to other businesses directly from your Reseller account. But simply building a video “story” isn’t enough for today’s tech-hungry consumers.

New statistics show that 45.4% of Internet users view at least one video online over the course of a month. Even more so, website visitors are 64% more likely to purchase products from an online retailer after watching a video. Now, imagine if that product had a live demo available for viewers to access within the browser? Imagine that you could interact with said product directly from within the video software, without having to download any PDFs or ReadMe files first. Consumers nowadays want instant gratification with their web-based products, and interactive videos are essential in giving customers what they want—a “try it before you buy it” business model.

Business-to-business (B2B) marketers in the past relied solely on developing content to generate new client leads, but those days are long since over. The businesses of today are turning to video and interactive content as a means of driving next generation sales, because video is basically everywhere. It’s a part of our daily functions as working professionals. According to the 2014 Content Preferences Survey from Demand Gen, 50% of participants viewed video in the past 12 months to research a B2B purchase. Marketers want videos to engage viewers—to convince them to buy their product—instead of just watching a review for the shiny new tech-toy, and interactivity allows just that.

“Interactive content served up with the specific requirements of the user in mind enables reps [to] get one step further in the process,” said Joan Babinski, VP of Corporate Marketing for Brainshark. Even still, interactivity is a very new concept in the world of online video, especially when it comes to driving profits for the more progressive marketers and sales teams. Prospective clients are seeing a shift in power when it comes to video content production, and pairing that interactive element with some short-form video that is specific to a role, company or solution can help move a prospect along the sales cycle.

Just last month, over-the-top streaming provider Roku announced its partnership with video advertiser Innovid, allowing the OTT box to broadcast interactive video ads to viewers. Innovid will be the first interactive video solution for Roku’s platform, as users will begin to see more personalized, targeted and interactive video ads in their Roku apps. Social media giant Facebook is also experimenting with interactive video ads as a means of competing with YouTube, even going as far as offering a 55% revenue cut to video makers for ads shown before or during its Suggested Video Test. “What they lose in time they will make up for in interactive features—being [complemented] with text and rich media overlays to leave an impression on the consumer not using audio or flying by the ad,” said Forrester Research analyst Jennifer Wise.

Whether its produced interactive content, video ads with interactivity added, or CDNs experimenting with different elements, there’s no doubt about it: interactivity is crucial in providing the best video experience to clients, regardless of whatever industry they’re associated with. As this technology is further developed, more and more marketers are realizing the potential of truly “engaging” with their audience—both current and potential customers—through interactive video as a means of getting their attention (and getting into their wallets).

(Originally published via LinkedIn Pulse on August 12, 2015)

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Max Greenwood is the managing director of social media for Tivi: Truly Interactive Video, a radical new online video platform incorporating interactivity into live and on-demand video content.

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